Prasanna Kumar Pincha, India’s first visually impaired Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, breathed his last on Sunday morning. Pincha, who was blind since birth, was a reputed disability rights activist. He served as Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities for a three-year tenure, from December 2011 to 2014.
Pincha had reportedly been ill for the past few days, and breathed his last at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, in New Delhi.
Pincha, who studied at a school for the Blind in Kolkata, went on to do his Bachelor's in Law in Assam. He also held a Masters degree in English.
The 68-year-old activist had more than three decades of experience working with the government as well as non-government organisations. He had done extensive work with marginalised communities in Assam while working with the international NGO, ActionAid.
In 1999, he received the National Award of Best Employee (Visually Disabled) from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
He was the founding Principal of the Government Institute for the Blind in Jorhat, Assam before the institution was taken over by the government.
Pincha went on to hold several positions of eminence and responsibility. At ActionAid, he held the position of Regional Senior Manager for the North-East of India. He also served as the Senior Manager and National Theme Leader, managing the international NGO’s work on the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
He has also held the position of Joint Director of Social Welfare, Government of Assam.
Before taking charge as the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, he was associated with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as the Special Rapporteur for Persons with Disabilities. He also served as Chairperson of the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.
In 2006, while working for ActionAid, Pincha won a legal battle against a bank, to earn the right to have an account and use his cheque book like other fellow employees. The Industrial Development Bank of India required Pincha to furnish an undertaking saying he would bear any risk of fraud, before authorising him to use a cheque book. Pincha contested this condition as discriminatory at the Guwahati High Court, and won the case.
At the time, Pincha reportedly said that the battle has been won, “but the war has just begun.”
Pincha also advocated a series of changes in the Constitution to be accommodative to the rights of persons with disabilities. He wanted the word “handicap” supplanted with “persons with disabilities”, include “disability” as a ground to prohibit discrimination, and provisions for job reservations in public institutions, among others.
Listen to PK Pincha talk about resolution of issues faced by the blind during the COVID-19 lockdown